- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
When Brianna Hardee hit a basket with just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter on Friday night, she put the St. Mary’s Ryken Knights girls basketball team up six points, 36-30, over Washington Catholic Athletic Association foe and undefeated Paul VI (Va.).
However, over the next 2 minutes 30 seconds of the third period, Paul VI and head coach Scott Allen showed why the team remains undefeated by going on an 11-0 scoring run to take a 41-36 lead.
The visitors never looked back en route to the eventual 55-52 victory at Ryken.
“Once you see the ball go in the basket, it starts building confidence,” Allen said. “The ball didn’t go in the basket for us at all, St. Mary’s Ryken was making good plays, we had nothing going for us ... but eventually when we saw the ball go in the basket and started building confidence. ... That was the key for us, I think.”
And eventually going down by as many as seven points, 47-40 with 5:12 left in the game, Ryken managed to get within one point when a Brittani Burgess basket made it 49-48 with only 1:30 remaining.
“They are going to keep fighting,” Ryken head coach Kris Sandberg said of her team. “I was very proud that we were down but they didn’t give up. I think a lot of that goes to how hard we have been playing in other games and playing other teams and learning how to fight through and win tough games.”
On the loss of the six-point lead, she added, “That’s the tough thing about this conference, you can’t take any lead for granted. But, credit to Paul VI, they kept fighting and kept working.”
Sandberg watched as her team had one final shot to tie the game, down 53-50 with 21 seconds remaining and with possession of the ball, but unable to score, being forced to foul and watch as Paul VI sealed the game from the free-throw line.
Senior Marlena Tremba, who led Paul VI (17-0, 8-0 WCAC) with 14 points, sank the game-clinching free throws to deliver the visitors the win.
“I was a little nervous because I knew if I missed them, [Ryken] would have a chance to hit a three and tie the game up,” Tremba said. “I knew I had to focus make them to put the team ahead and I knew I would be able to seal the game.”
Impressed with her team’s ability to fight off an 11-0 run and be within striking distance at the end of the game, Sandberg admitted it may have been the 11-0 run that changed the landscape of the game.
“We stopped focusing on defense,” Sandberg admitted of run. “We have been trying to switch up our defenses and they kind of forgot which one we were in and we left a couple of shooters open. ... Our defense is how we play the game and if we’re not all talking [about] what we’re doing, you are going to give up some points. You can’t do that against the best teams in our conference, you can’t do that against anybody in our conference.”
Burgess led all scorers with 19 points in the contest and teammate Cydney Smith added 14 to round out the Ryken double-digit scorers.
For Ryken, it was the first of two-straight losses as the Knights dropped its contest at Good Counsel, 78-52 on Sunday, to fall to 11-5 overall and 4-3 in WCAC play.
Smith finished with a game-high 17 points in the Good Counsel defeat and Marissa Somerville added 15 points, respectively.